UN urges Myanmar to cooperate with int'l mechanisms

UN Human Rights High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet attends a press conference in Geneva. [AFP Photo]

The UN Human Rights Council on Monday urged to cooperate with the Independent Investigative Mechanism to ensure justice in the country.

"I urge the Government [of Myanmar] to cooperate with the international mechanisms that have been established both to ensure justice and consolidate Myanmar's democratic transition," High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet told the 42nd regular session of the Council in Geneva.

The UN Rights Council established the mechanism in September last year with the mandate "to collect, consolidate, preserve and analyze evidence of the most serious international crimes and violations of international law committed in Myanmar since 2011".

She announced that the mechanism was declared operational by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in August.

Bachelet said it is now two years since "horrific violations" by the army, including killings and sexual violence, drove nearly a million Rohingya people out of Myanmar.

"The need for accountability is compelling and urgent..." she said and added: "This Council session will hear the final report of the [UN] Fact Finding Mission, and I commend it for giving the world a clear picture of the gravity and scale of the violations that have been committed across Myanmar."

"Now Rakhine State is experiencing another conflict between the so-called Arakan Army and the Tatmadaw [Myanmar military], and another wave of human rights violations and displacement. This is affecting both ethnic Rakhine and Rohingya communities and will make it even harder for refugees and internally displaced people to return," she added.

Nicholas Koumjian, head of the Independent Investigative Mechanism for Myanmar, said the forming of the mechanism "makes a small but important contribution".

"The Mechanism will strive to obtain and analyze information that sheds light on whether there is proof, to the high standards required in criminal cases, that individuals are responsible for serious ," Koumjian said during his address at the session.

He added the mechanism's role is not to advocate policies rather to facilitate "fair and independent" criminal proceedings.

The Rohingya, described by the UN as the world's most persecuted people, have faced heightened fears of attack since dozens were killed in communal violence in 2012.

According to Amnesty International, more than 750,000 Rohingya refugees, mostly women and children, have fled Myanmar and crossed into Bangladesh after Myanmar forces launched a crackdown on the minority Muslim community in August 2017, pushing the number of persecuted people in Bangladesh above 1.2 million.

Since Aug. 25, 2017, nearly 24,000 Rohingya Muslims have been killed by Myanmar's state forces, according to a report by the Ontario International Development Agency (OIDA).

More than 34,000 Rohingya were also thrown into fires, while over 114,000 others were beaten, said the OIDA report, titled "Forced Migration of Rohingya: The Untold Experience."

Some 18,000 Rohingya women and girls were raped by Myanmar's army and police and over 115,000 Rohingya homes were burned down and 113,000 others vandalized, it added.

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